Save Ferris Bring Ska-tastic Nostalgia to The Stone Pony

Save Ferris at The Stone Pony
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Crespi/JeffCrespiROCKS.com

Pop Break Live: Save Ferris, Backyard Superheroes, and Baby Baby at The Stone Pony

Baby Baby started the night off with a raucous set of hardcore punk. The Atlanta-based band, made up of drummer Grant Wallace, percussionist Colin Boddy, bassist Hsiang-Ming Wen, and guitarist/singer Fontez Brookes, has a “Fuck the world. Let’s party attitude.” This is the kind of music that makes you want to tell Katy Perry to take her “purposeful pop” and shove it.

When Brooks isn’t singing about his anger at the state of the world, he wants “To Teach You How to Dance” and tell you to “Keep Dancing ,” which is advice some audience members took to heart with a wrecking pit.

In more ways than one, Dancing is to Baby Baby what partying is to Andrew W.K, which isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes the most important thing to do is put out the “just do you vibe” Baby Baby strives for and achieves.

The next band was Central Jersey- based Backyard Superheroes, who would be at home sharing a bill with “Hello Rockview”-era Less Than Jake. However, this isn’t ’90s ska as the lighting fast singing reminiscent of Streetlight Manifesto’s Tomas Kalnoky and modern references to Tinder’s “swipe right, swipe right” demonstrate.

Unfortunately, Backyard Superheroes may be more enjoyable on CD. Saxophonist Gary Mastriano’s goofy lanky guy in a ska band act stole the show away from vocalist/guitarist Josh Hershkovitz, guitarist Matt Angarone, bassist Greg Gecik Jr., drummer Ryan Weil, and trombonist Brian Rechter. While Gary clearly had the time of his life, the rest of the band faded into the background. Occasionally, trumpeter Bruce Krywinski Jr. would join Gary in using his brass instrument as an air guitar prop.

During their set Backyard Superheroes performed the original song “Tangerine Drive,” The Bouncing Souls “True Believers,” and Blink 182’s “The Rock Show” to start the crowd pogoing for the night.

Once, Backyard Superheroes finished. It was time for the main event: Save Ferris. It’s been 15 years since played The Stone Pony. A lot has changed in that time. Brian Mashburn and company are long gone. In their place are bassist and vocalist Gordon Bash, guitarist Patrick Ferguson, trombonist Erik Hughes, keyboards Alex Burke, drummer Brandon Dickert, trumpeter Conner McElwain, and saxophonist Alexander Mathias.

As for frontwoman Monique Powell, she is more confident, sexier, and energetic than before. She’s gone from perky fun Orange County girl to a vixen out for the kill. One gets the feeling that classic Save Ferris songs like “You’re Friend” and “Mistaken” take on a new meaning for Powell in the aftermath of the intra-band drama. During “Turn It Up,” Powell teased the audience with a striptease, revealing a more revealing dress underneath one that had sleeves. For the performance of “I Know” from 10 Things I Hate About You, Powell played up her sexier image when she held a male fans head between her breasts. Later, she put the microphone there and then licked it.

The dynamics of Save Ferris have changed. The men are comfortable letting Monique’s infectious personality dominate, whereas the original lineup had seven different people looking for the spotlight. One also gets the feeling that the horn players and drummer may not want the attention. Bassist Bash was the only band member to purposely draw attention to himself by playing upright bass behind his neck for part of “Superspy.”

Most of the audience wasn’t old enough to see Save Ferris with the original lineup and probably learned about the band through the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Powell joked that some of the original fans died of old age.

For the encore, Powell returned to the stage and informed the audience that they should have left already. She planned to sleep in the tour bus, but everyone was making so much noise. Of course, Powell was joking. She returned to the stage to sing Save Ferris’ new single “New Sound” and their cover of “Come On Eileen,” which is the band’s most well-known song.

During “Come On Eileen,” the crowd went wild. The audience knew every word and sang along as it danced the end of the night away. The crowd stopped everything to pay extra attention to Powell closing the show with the line “You mean everything.” At that moment, Save Ferris did mean everything to the audience at the Stone Pony.

Setlist
“The World Is New”
“Nobody, but Me”
“Little Differences”
“Sorry My Friend”
“What You See is What You Get”
“For You”
“Golden Silence”
“Your Friend”
“Mistaken”
“Anything”
“Turn It Up”
“Superspy”
“Goodbye”
“Do I Even Like You?”

Encore
“New Sound”
“Come on Eileen”

Anglophile, Rockabilly, Pompadour lover, TV and Music Critic